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I am currently reading Lipatti by Dragos Tanasescu and Grigore Bargauanu. It is the only English biography based on the life of Romanian pianist and composer Dinu Lipatti and it has long been out of print. I managed to find a used library copy for sale at Amazon.
Dinu Lipatti (1917-1950) died at the tragically early age of 33 from Hodgkins Lymphoma. That disease was not as treatable in those days as it is now.
Though Lipatti is mainly known among classical pianists for a handful of great records like his recording of Ravel’s Alborado del gracioso and the album of the complete Chopin Waltzes he put together the summer before he passed on. His last concert was also recorded only three months before his death when he was so weak he could barely stand. That recording is also considered a “classic” it is called The Besancon Recital (1950).
He is much less known as a composer but recently the people who manage dinulipatti.com located some radio transcription recordings from the late 1940’s. Now it is possible to hear Lipatti’s compositions such as Concertino in Classical Style, Symphonie concertante, Les Tziagnes and Romanian dances. These recording (though rather rough considering the source) are great to hear because Lipatti himself plays the piano parts on many. They can be found at iTunes and on Youtube.
He truly was one of the last virtuoso pianist/composers. Prokofiev, who died three years later, was probably the very last. His music both as a performer and composer is well worth hearing.
These past three weeks on hiatus, I have also been reading Diaghilev (a life) by Sjeng Scheijen.
Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929) is the historically famous impresario of the Ballets Russes. He was flamboyant and openly gay at a time when this was not generally accepted even in Paris in the 1920’s. Under his commission, the greatest of 20th century composers wrote ballets for him.
Stravinsky’s “Le Sacre,” Ravel’s “Daphnis and Chloe,” and more than a few ballets by Prokofiev were among those commissions. A grand life led by a bigger than life character.
There is a movie from the 1980 that essayed Diaghilev’s work and relationship with the famous and tragic ballet star Vaslav Nijinsky. The movie is called “Nijinsky,” and stars Alan Bates as Sergei Diaghilev, and George de la Pena as Nijinsky.
At week three of my hiatus in the sun I have come up with a short guitar piece that I think is quite nice.
The working title is “Poor Hidalgo.”
I have been thinking about the Don Quixote character a lot and it led to this tune which utilizes as a unifying them the Spanish dance pattern called “Quajira” which alternates 6/8 and 3/4 meters.
According to wiki the definition of “hidalgo” is:
“In literature the hidalgo is usually portrayed as a noble who has lost nearly all of his family’s wealth but still held on to the privileges and honours of the nobility. The prototypical fictional hidalgo is Don Quixote, who was given the sobriquet ‘the Ingenious Hidalgo’ by his creator, Miguel de Cervantes. In the novel Cervantes has Don Quixote satirically present himself as an hidalgo de sangre and aspire to live the life of a knight-errant despite the fact that his economic position does not allow him to truly do so. Don Quixote’s possessions allowed to him a meager life devoted to his reading obsession, yet his concept of honour led him to emulate the knights-errant. The picaresque novel Lazarillo features an hidalgo so poor that he spreads on his clothes breadcrumbs from a box to simulate that he has had a meal. His hidalgo honour forbids him from manual work but does not provide him with subsistence.”
We spend most of our lives becoming. We are all on the quest to “become” the best and most relevant version of ourselves. For me, this becoming has been best exemplified by the music I have written.
This music, in it’s purest and most concise form is the mirror reflection of my becoming. Part of my of it has been the result of the processing of life’s trials and tribulations.
I have slowly learned to let go which, in itself, is a slow if not lifelong ordeal. Part of letting go means courting dignity and grace in the face of disappointments. And disappointments are many in the life of most musicians because unreserved intention and even talent do not guarantee success.
I have no idea why I have been so driven and relentless in creating my little tone poems, but something deep inside myself assures me that it is the best use of what talent and instincts God and nature have provided me with. It’s the best way I can serve the greater good during my time in this quaint old vale of tears.
As my wife often reminds me, “all you can do is all you can do.” All of this, of course, is an effort to, in some small way, best express what Maurice Ravel called, “life’s mysterious thrill.”